EdBrief

District Survey Underscores Struggles and Highlights Potential Solutions to Teacher Shortage Crisis

December 5, 2016

A new survey of California school districts reveals that the state’s teacher shortage has reached alarming levels, with 75% of surveyed districts indicating there are too few qualified teachers to fill their teaching vacancies. And most districts say the shortages are getting worse.

Districts say these shortages are driven by a declining supply of teachers, ongoing retirements, and high turnover. Although districts with higher populations of low-income and English learner students are getting hit the hardest, the crisis is affecting districts of all kinds. To address these shortages, many districts are hiring teachers with substandard credentials or leaving positions vacant. Most surveyed districts report they cannot find qualified math, science, and special education teachers, and more than one-third are experiencing shortages of elementary teachers – usually an area of surpluses...

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New Study Finds Many Teacher Prep Programs Maintain High Bar for Entry

November 21, 2016

A strong body of research, and the example of other nations, supports a relationship between student performance and the selectivity of admissions into teacher prep programs. Therefore, America’s institutions training teachers should set high standards to admit only the best candidates to become the teachers who will educate our nation’s future.

According to a new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), 25 states set high admissions standards in 2015, but many that increased admissions requirements indirectly through the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) admissions policies backed away from that higher standard for entry when CAEP agreed to let programs delay verifying their students’ academic ability until graduation. As a result, the number of states requiring an average GPA of 3.0 or higher before being admitted to a teacher prep program fell from 25 to just the 11 states which established strong admissions policies in state law. The number requiring a test taken by general college applicants (such as the ACT or SAT) dropped from 19 to three...

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Bill to Expand Affordable Housing for Teachers Signed by Governor

October 10, 2016

A measure authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by the City of San Francisco to expand affordable housing options for teachers was signed by Governor Brown on September 27. SB 1413 will help California retain quality educators by allowing school districts to establish housing for teachers and employees on district-owned property.

"When high quality teachers can’t afford to live where they work, the entire community suffers,” said Senator Leno. “Governor Brown’s approval of SB 1413 will help school districts directly address the housing affordability challenges facing teachers and reduce high turnover rates."

SB 1413 establishes the Teacher Housing Act of 2016 to facilitate affordable housing programs for teachers and school employees throughout California. The bill authorizes school districts to establish housing on their property and restrict occupancy to teachers and school employees, while still accessing federal tax credits for affordable housing...

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School Districts Struggle with Teacher Shortage as Great Recession Recedes

By Lisette Partelow and Christina Baumgardner - Rep: October 10, 2016

In the fall of 2015, the news was full of stories about teacher shortages in school districts and states across the country. From Oklahoma to California, school leaders struggled to fill their classrooms and prepare for the coming school year; from North Carolina to Kansas, the same situation is playing out as the 2016 school year begins. Explanations for these shortages vary; some blamed poor planning or the recovering economy, while others pointed to high rates of teacher attrition and wondered if teacher morale was suffering under new education reforms. With little empirical evidence to explain the scarcity of teachers in these states and districts, however, most explanations have been based primarily on previously established opinions and complaints about public education in the Unites States.

To put regional teacher shortages in context, it is important to recognize that the United States is not currently suffering from a national teacher shortage. According to the U.S. Department of Education, teacher preparation programs – including both traditional programs housed within an institution of higher education and alternative certification programs – currently produce enough teachers to meet total classroom demand across the country, and this is projected to continue for some time...

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U.S. Department of Education Awards $22 Million to Support Educators of English Learner Students

September 26, 2016

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of English Language Acquisition announced on September 22 the awarding of $22 million in grants under the National Professional Development Program to support educators of English learner students.

The grant program provides grants to eligible institutions of higher education, in collaboration with states or districts, to implement professional development activities that will improve instruction for English learners. Professional development may include preservice or in-service activities for educators of English learners, including teachers, administrators, paraprofessionals and other educators. Professional development activities may include teacher education programs and training for other education professionals that lead to certification, licensing, or endorsement for providing instruction to English learners...

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Study Finds Teachers Improve as They Gain Experience

June 13, 2016

Teachers, on average, increase their effectiveness as they gain experience, and this improvement continues in the second and often third decade of their careers. This is a key finding from a comprehensive review of 30 studies analyzing the effect of teaching experience on student outcomes, released by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI).

The report, Does Teaching Experience Increase Teacher Effectiveness? A Review of the Research, reexamines this question in light of recent studies using advanced research methods. It is co-authored by Senior Policy Advisor Tara Kini and Researcher and Policy Analyst Anne Podolsky. Among its key findings: as teachers gain experience throughout their careers, their students’ achievement gains increase. Although the steepest gains are in the first few years of teaching, teachers continue to gain in effectiveness throughout their careers, especially when they work in collegial work environments...

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News Brief: Can Forgivable Loans and Service Scholarships Help Attract Quality Teachers?

May 31, 2016

This May, college students across the nation are graduating. Among those are newly trained teachers, often strapped with crushing student debt and beset with the difficult choice of whether to work in their chosen field. Even after adjusting for a shorter work year, beginning teachers nationally earn about 20% less than their peers entering other fields, a gap that widens to 30% in mid-career.

Faced with the growing overall shortage of teachers, the increasing need to recruit and retain teachers in under-served rural and urban communities and in specific subject areas (e.g., the STEM fields and special education) and the high level of student debt, a number of states are seeking remedies. Loan forgiveness and service scholarship programs are two such solutions.

But do these programs work?

The Learning Policy Institute’s (LPI) latest brief examines existing studies to answer this question, How Effective Are Loan Forgiveness and Service Scholarships for Recruiting and Teachers? For LPI authors Anne Podolsky and Tara Kini, the answer is yes – in cases that the financial benefit meaningfully offsets the cost of professional preparation...

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New U.S. Department of Education Report Finds Holes Throughout Teacher Pipeline

May 16, 2016

On May 6, the U.S. Department of Education released a report today titled “The State of Racial Diversity in the Educator Workforce,” in conjunction with the National Summit on Teacher Diversity, an even hosted by the department. The report reviews trends in the diversity of elementary and secondary school educators, and examines the teacher pipeline from enrollment in postsecondary education to entrance into the teaching workforce and beyond.

“A diverse teacher workforce isn’t just a nicety – it’s a real contributor to better outcomes in our schools, workplaces, and communities,” Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said. “It’s important for students of color to have role models who look like them and share common experiences. It’s just as important for all students to see teachers of color in leadership roles in their classrooms and communities. We must work together to support states and districts as they work to prepare, hire, support, and retain a more diverse teacher workforce.”...

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Report Finds Number of Teachers Isn’t Rising, Shortages Present in Many Districts

May 16, 2016

On April 29, the Center for Public Education (CPE), the research arm of the National School Boards Association, released “Fixing the Holes in the Teacher Pipeline: An Overview of Teacher Shortages.” The new report examines the scope of the teacher shortage through state and national data on teacher supply and demand, and explores how local school and university leadership can affect the three main leverage points in the teacher pipeline: initial preparation, recruitment, and retention.

Many school districts across the country are struggling to attract and keep good teachers. The challenge is particularly acute in several states and in public schools that serve high proportions of minority and low-income children.

“Public schools face a number of challenges, and attracting and retaining good teachers is among the most important,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s executive director. “Assuring that every student has access to a well-prepared and effective teacher is the key element in the formula for successfully preparing the nation’s youth for life.”...

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LAO Compiles Eye-Catching Statistics About Teachers

February 8, 2016

On January 20, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) presented a handout to the Senate Education Committee regarding California’s Teacher Workforce, which contained a 16-page checklist with a number of interesting statistics:

—California currently has approximately 295,000 teachers. About half of California’s teachers serve in elementary schools, slightly more than 40 percent serve in middle and high schools, and slightly less than 10 percent serve in other settings (such as alternative and adult schools). Between five and ten percent of California’s teachers serve in supporting capacities, such as being reading specialists or mentor teachers.

—About 75 percent of California’s teachers are female (about the same as the national average)...

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California Teacher Shortages Likely to Grow Worse If Unaddressed, New Report Concludes

January 25, 2016

If current trends persist, emerging teacher shortages in California will continue to increase – unless policymakers address both sides of the supply and demand equation. This is according to a report released on January 19 by the Learning Policy Institute, a new national education research and policy organization based in Palo Alto, California and Washington, DC.

The report, Addressing California’s Emerging Teacher Shortage: An Analysis of Sources and Solutions, reviews the origins of the current situation, evaluates the factors that will determine future trends, and offers policy recommendations. The report was released on January 19 at the “California's Emerging Teacher Shortage: New Evidence and Policy Responses Conference,” co-sponsored by Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE), the Education Policy Center at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) and the Learning Policy Institute (LPI)...

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Report Also Examines Principal Evaluation Policy

Study Finds Evaluations of Educator Effectiveness Rooted in State Policy

November 12, 2015

On November 4, The National Council on Teacher Quality released State of the States 2015: Evaluating Teaching, Leading and Learning,” which provides a lay of the land on state teacher and principal evaluation policy in 2015. The report finds that more rigorous policies are continuing to take root across the states, with 43 states requiring that student achievement and growth be included in teacher evaluations; 35 of the 43 require it to be a significant factor.

The findings fly in the face of skeptics who suggest that student achievement based teacher evaluations are not grounded in state policy but driven instead by ESEA/No Child Left Behind waivers that states have obtained from the federal government since 2013. In fact, in 2015, there are only five states in the nation (California, Iowa, Montana, Nebraska and Vermont) that still have no formal policy requiring objective measures of student achievement to be included in evaluation ratings. Only Alabama, New Hampshire and Texas have teacher effectiveness policies that exist only in waiver promises made to the U.S. Department of Education...

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New Report Details How States Can Develop Excellent School Principals as Leaders of Learning

October 1, 2015

Even though school principals have a powerful impact on teaching and student achievement, in general they remain relatively low priorities on crowded state education policy agendas. A new report released on Sept. 24 suggests a number of possible actions that state policymakers can consider to raise the profile of principals on policy agendas and ensure they are well trained and well supported on the job.

A Wallace-commissioned report, Developing Excellent School Principals to Advance Teaching and Learning: Considerations for State Policy, offers a detailed analysis of what some states have done to strengthen principals and suggests that their actions fall into three areas that can guide policymaking. State leaders can: 1) move principals higher on policy agendas, 2) use six possible policy levers, and 3) better understand diverse state and local contextual factors likely to influence how the levers play out in practice. Although the report presents no single formula for success, its ideas can help guide states interested in better training and supporting principals...

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Report Sheds Light on the STEM Teacher Drought in California

September 17, 2015

On September 8, The Education Trust–West released “The STEM Teacher Drought: Cracks and Disparities in California’s Math and Science Teacher Pipeline,” a report examining the shortage of qualified science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers in California’s schools. Digging into the overall California teacher shortage, the report asks important questions about which types of districts suffer the most from a shortage of STEM teachers and shows that districts serving high populations of low-income students and students of color are hit the hardest.

Analyzing teacher credential and hiring data, the report finds that in 2013-14, the demand for STEM teachers outpaced the supply by nearly 200 teachers, directly impacting an estimated 28,000 students. The report finds clear patterns of difference across school communities: higher poverty, rural, and city districts, as well as elementary districts and county offices of education, are less able to meet their demand for STEM teachers. Furthermore, this analysis shows that low-income students are 2 to 3 times more likely to be taught by teachers lacking a full credential and/or STEM-specific authorization...

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Education Groups Urge U.S. Supreme Court to Protect Teachers Required to Report Child Abuse

August 20, 2015

On August 13, the National School Boards Association (NSBA), joined by the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), and 15 other national organizations filed an amicus brief, “friend of the court” in the U.S. Supreme Court in Schott v. O’Reilly (formerly Wenk v. O’Reilly) urging the Court to protect teachers and other school officials from claims arising out of their mandatory obligation to report instances of suspected child abuse. The case concerns whether teachers or other school personnel – required by state law to serve as mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse – are entitled to qualified immunity.

The case asks the Court to hear and overturn a ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee) that makes mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse vulnerable to federal claims brought by an alleged abuser. NSBA and its joint amici argue that mandatory reporting requirements exist to protect the safety of children by encouraging reports of suspected abuse...

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NSBA Issues Guide on What High Court Same-Sex Marriage Decision Means for School Districts

August 6, 2015

In light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the National School Boards Association (NSBA), in partnership with key education groups, has released a newly updated guide to discuss the legal impact of the decision on local school board policies. Since the Court decided that the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires a state to recognize and license a marriage between two people of the same-sex, the intent of the guide is to answer questions that school districts and school personnel may have in their efforts to understand the decision and comply with its provisions.

“As the nation’s largest collective employer with nearly 6.2 million employees, the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges is a landmark decision that will impact school district employment policies and practices,” stated Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA Executive Director, on July 30. “Through our legal advocacy experts and case analysis, NSBA offers state-of-the-art resources to help guide school districts on appropriate implementation of the law.”...

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New Lawsuit Says 13 Districts Are Breaking Law by Not Using Student Testing Data in Teacher Evaluations

July 23, 2015

(Editor’s Note: On July 16, the advocacy group Students Matter filed a lawsuit against 13 California school districts, seeking to force them to use student assessment data when conducting teacher evaluations. The following article was prepared by Associated Press reporter Christine Armario – the article appeared in several California newspapers.)

The same organization that backed a landmark case on California's teacher tenure laws is funding a lawsuit filed July 16 that takes aim at districts not enforcing an act that requires student achievement data to be used on teacher evaluations.

The suit filed by four parents and two teachers in Contra Costa County Superior Court alleges 13 districts around the state have signed collective bargaining agreements that explicitly prohibit compliance with the 1971 Stull Act.

The suit states that the districts fail hundreds of thousands of children by refusing to enforce the law...

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NSBA Helping School Districts Implement Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Decision

July 9, 2015

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued an historic decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. In the opinion, the Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when that marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state.

The petitioners in Obergefell were fourteen (14) same-sex couples and two men whose same-sex partners are deceased. They filed lawsuits in the federal district courts of their home states claiming that the state officials in those home states were violating the Fourteenth Amendment by denying them the right to marry or by failing to fully recognize marriages lawfully performed in another state. Each of the district courts ruled in the petitioners’ favor, but the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit consolidated the cases and reversed the decisions of the district courts...

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NSBA Applauds Court Decision Recognizing Protective Role of School Personnel in Child Abuse Reporting

June 25, 2015

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) praised a June 18 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Ohio Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Ohio v. Clark. The Court considered whether the mandatory duty of teachers and other school personnel to report suspected child abuse cases made them law enforcement agents pursuant to the Confrontation Clause, a constitutional protection under the Sixth Amendment that grants those accused of a crime the right to confront witnesses. The Court also ruled on whether the child’s out-of-court statements to his teachers qualified as “testimonial,” making the statements a substitute for in-court trial testimony subject to cross examination.

Consistent with NSBA’s position as outlined in its “friend of the court” (amicus) brief, Justice Samuel Alito delivered the Court’s unanimous opinion and found that the school officials in this case should not be viewed as law enforcement agents, and the statements made by the young child to the teachers were not given with the “primary purpose of creating an out-of-court substitute for trial testimony.”...

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Teacher Leadership is the Pathway to Common Core Success

By Andrew Amore, Nichole M. Hoeflich, Kaitlin Pennington - Center for American Progress

Rep: May 28, 2015

The Common Core State Standards began in 2009 as a state-led effort to measure the nation’s students against a shared benchmark. At first, the standards received broad acceptance. Education leaders and elected officials alike agreed that students and the U.S. education system would benefit from internationally competitive standards that guarantee common, rigorous learning goals for students across the nation.

But as the standards rolled out – and as they continue to roll out – the Common Core has become a political football, so much so that some political pundits are predicting that it will be a significant issue for 2016 presidential hopefuls.

With all of the political posturing, it’s easy to lose focus and pay little heed to the voices of the people most affected by the standards – teachers and students...

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New Guidance from U.S. Dept. of Education Reminds Schools of Obligation to Designate Title IX Coordinator

May 7, 2015

On April 24, The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights released a guidance package emphasizing the responsibility of school districts, colleges and universities to designate a Title IX coordinator. The package also contains an overview of the law's requirements in several key areas, including athletics, single-sex education, sex-based harassment, and discipline.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

"A critical responsibility for schools under Title IX is to designate a well-qualified, well-trained Title IX coordinator and to give that coordinator the authority and support necessary to do the job," said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. "We hope that these documents will help schools understand their obligations under Title IX."...

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Free Videos Highlight Skills and Strategies Developed by Five Exemplary School Principals

April 23, 2015

A free collection of videos aimed at developing school leadership skills, titled School Leadership in Action: Principal Profiles, is available on PBS LearningMedia and The Wallace Foundation websites beginning today. The New York Times featured the videos recently in this op-ed about the importance of school principals.

In the five videos, each about 12 minutes long, the camera follows exemplary principals into their schools and offers an up-close look at what they do to improve teaching and lift student achievement. The videos show the principals interacting with students, teachers, and other administrators and using effective strategies to make their schools successful. The collection is intended for principals, aspiring principals and those who train and support principals so that they will see effective practices firsthand and be inspired by these outstanding principals...

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Registration Now Open for ACSA/TSS Training Programs for Classified Leaders

April 9, 2015

The Association of California School Administrators and Total School Solutions are offering comprehensive training programs for leaders in certain critical classified management positions. These excellent training programs will minimize future hiring risks by preparing a pool of properly trained candidates for these positions. These in-depth and focused programs will also provide opportunities to build local capacity by having incumbents and other existing employees with promise and potential properly trained.

The training will be offered to develop and/or expand skill, knowledge and know-how of the professionals who serve or inspire to serve in the following positions. Click on the links below for more information and dates:

Director of Fiscal Services...

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Districts Need to Update TB Risk Assessment for Employees, Volunteers Due to New Law

March 26, 2015

The California School Nurses Organization (CSNO), in partnership with the California Tuberculosis (TB) Controllers Association (CTCA), the California Department of Public Health TB Control Branch (CDPH-TB), and the California Department of Education (CDE), are pleased to announce the release of materials to support the implementation of AB 1667, which replaces universal TB testing for private, parochial, public K-12 school and nursery school employees and volunteers. Starting January 1, 2015, newly hired school district employees and volunteers with frequent or prolonged contact with pupils will be required to submit to the Pre-K and K-12 TB risk assessment questionnaire within 60 days of hire and every four years thereafter or submit to a TB test on the same schedule. The risk assessment questionnaire was developed by CDPH and the CTCA and may be administered by a physician or surgeon, physician’s assistant (PA), a nurse practitioner (NP) or a registered nurse (RN). Many school nurses provide TB placement for their school districts. School nurses can play a critical role in conducting Pre-K and K-12 TB Risk Assessments for their school districts...

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Report Suggests Redesign of Teacher Compensation Systems Would Advance Student Performance

February 26, 2015

Effective teachers are the biggest in-school factor related to student success. Across the country, a diverse set of districts are pioneering innovative approaches to teacher compensation that reward their best teachers and raise teacher compensation overall. A new report from the Center for American Progress and Educational Resource Strategies, or ERS, looks at 10 first-mover districts in order to provide lessons for how school districts can redesign their compensation systems to attract, retain, and leverage a high-performing teacher force.

“Revising teacher career paths and compensation is one critical piece of getting and keeping great teachers and making the most of education dollars,” said Karen Hawley Miles, president and executive director of ERS and coauthor of the report...

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ACSA, TSS Team Up in July for Comprehensive Training Programs for Classified Leaders

February 12, 2015

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) and Total School Solutions (TSS) will be holding comprehensive training programs for classified leaders in July, with a specific focus on:

—Director of Maintenance and Operations
—Director of Student Nutrition Services
—Superintendent/Board Administrative Assistants
—Director of Fiscal Services (for larger school districts).

Chris Adams, Director of Education with ACSA, said “The importance of bringing services to classified leaders is that so often they are neglected in the lifecycle of professional development and do not feel as valued as other district leaders.”...

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Nationwide Study Finds Teachers Must Work 24 Years, on Average, to Reach $75,000 Salary

December 11, 2014

A study looking at the salaries of teachers in 113 mostly large school districts which employ about 20 percent of the nation's public school teachers finds that teachers’ lifetime earnings vary greatly from district to district, due largely to a much unstudied factor: the time it takes to climb the salary ladder.

The report, “Smart Money: What teachers make, how long it takes and what it buys them,” finds that the salary information that usually gets the most attention – starting or ending salaries – doesn’t tell the whole story. While it takes an average of 24 years for teachers to reach a common salary of $75,000,* some districts, like Boston Public Schools, take as few as 7 years while other districts, like Wichita Public Schools, take more than 30 years. Even after adjusting for cost of living, there are still big disparities...

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Commentary

Why I Am a Principal, Not a Statistic

By Sharif El-Mekki - October 30, 2014

As October, National Principals Month, comes to an end, I cannot help but to reflect upon what led me into the principalship.

As a twenty-one year old African American male, I could have very easily become a statistic. Five months after graduating from IUP in rural Pennsylvania, I was shot and left for dead on a football field in Philadelphia.

Many people struggle to recover from such an experience and I am blessed to have a community that rallied around me and refused to let me succumb to the trauma that could have easily overwhelmed me. Instead, I was led to become a career changer, transitioning from counseling adjudicated youth to one of the most important careers in the world-being a principal...

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Controller Unveils One-Stop Access to K-12 Districts’ Public Employee Compensation

October 16, 2014

For the first time since launching publicpay.ca.gov in 2010, State Controller John Chiang expanded the online tool on Oct. 2 to include salary, benefits and other compensation data for 578,403 K-12 public employees and school officials. In 2013, they earned more than $20.3 billion in total wages and nearly $5 billion in total retirement and health costs.

"After the City of Bell demonstrated how the absence of transparency and accountability can breed fiscal mismanagement, we created a one-stop resource detailing compensation data for every public official and employee,” Chiang said. "Californians should commend the nearly 600 school agencies that voluntarily submitted their compensation data in the objective, uniform format designed by our office to ensure reliable public review, comparative analysis, and trend spotting. Through greater transparency, we strive to empower parents and communities to more meaningfully engage in local decision-making over how their school dollars are being spent."...

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Report Finds Enrollment in Teacher Preparation Programs Down by 50 Percent Over Last Five Years

October 16, 2014

A new report by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing finds that enrollment in teacher preparation programs has dropped by more than 50 percent during the past five years, and the number of prospective educators completing teacher preparation programs has declined by 22 during the past three years.

The Annual Report Card on California Teacher Preparation Programs includes the following highlights:

  1. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has fallen from 42,245 in 2008-09, to 36,577 in 2009-10, to 34,838 in 2010-11, to 26,231 in 2011-12, to 19,933 in 2012-13 – a decline of more than 50 percent over a five year period...

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How Schools Can Recruit, Retain Black Male Teachers

By Travis Bristol - September 18, 2014

The challenges faced by black male teachers in schools may serve as the canary in the coalmine that begins to explain the debilitating condition faced by black boys in schools. Black males represent 1.9% of all public school teachers yet have one of the highest rates of turnover. Attempts to increase the number of black male teachers are based on research that suggests these new recruits can improve black students’ schooling outcomes.

Below, I discuss my study of the school-based experiences of 27 black male teachers in Boston Public Schools (BPS), who represent approximately 10 percent of all black male teachers in the district. This study, which I recently discussed on Boston’s NPR news station, is one of the largest studies conducted exclusively on black male teachers...

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Growth in Equity Market Spurs Second Year of Healthy Investment Returns for CalSTRS

July 21, 2014

Continued growth in the equity market, coupled with a bias to U.S. companies, fed a second year of healthy investment returns at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), which closed the 2013-14 fiscal year with an 18.66 percent return on its investments, CalSTRS reported on July 14.

The picture for the fiscal year July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014 shows investment returns well above the actuarial assumed rate of 7.5 percent. On a long-term, portfolio-wide basis, CalSTRS’ returns reflect the following performance levels:

  1. 11.2 percent over three years
  2. 13.7 percent over five years...

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Survey Ranks Teacher Prep Programs, Strongest Performers Often Not Located in High-Prestige Institutions

June 19, 2014

On June 17, The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) released its 2014 Teacher Prep Review – an annual assessment of the nation’s teacher preparation programs – with a much expanded and more comprehensive evaluation.

The Review suggests that teacher preparation programs are beginning to make changes. It arrives at a time of heightened, unprecedented activity across the nation to improve teacher preparation:

  1. 33 states have recently made significant changes in their accountability policies over teacher preparation programs and another 7 have taken positive steps forward;...

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Districts Encouraged to Improve Student Attendance by Focusing on Chronically Absent Teachers

June 11, 2014

A study looking at the attendance of over 234,000 teachers in the 2012-2013 school year found disturbing evidence of a group of teachers who are absent at least one out of every ten school days. The report, Roll Call: The importance of teacher attendance, finds that at 16 percent, the group of chronically absent teachers was precisely equivalent in size to the group of teachers who had excellent attendance in that school year, absent three or fewer days.

The findings were especially troubling because the study excluded long term absences of 11 or more days in order to ensure that any teacher who had to take extended leave for illness or family problem were not part of the sample. The results only include absences of one to ten consecutive days...

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UC Davis School of Education Will Use $5.8 Million Grant to Train Teachers across State

June 11, 2014

The University of California, Davis, School of Education has been awarded $5.8 million to lead a statewide initiative that will provide K-12 teachers throughout California resources and training that will help them teach their students more effectively.

The grant from the state Department of Education was given to the School of Education’s Center for Cooperative Research and Extension Services for Schools. With the grant, the center will work with education leaders throughout the state to develop and pilot a model to support the professional growth of teachers...

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Study Finds Promising Practices for Reimagining Teacher Evaluation Systems in California

May 29, 2014

On May 22, The Education Trust—West released initial findings from a two-year study examining innovative teacher evaluation systems in a new report titled, Beyond Satisfactory: Redefining Teacher Support and Evaluation to Improve Teaching and Learning. The report reveals that teachers and administrators generally experience the evaluation process as an objective and constructive opportunity to reflect on and improve their instruction in order to best serve all students. These systems offer teachers support in ways that are connected with teachers’ deep desires to ensure their students will achieve at high levels. The report also highlights promising practices, and it offers recommendations for improving teacher evaluation and support in California...

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Nation’s Teacher Workforce Lacks Diversity, Putting Student Achievement at Risk

May 15, 2014

While America’s public schools are becoming increasingly more diverse, a new report released by the Center for American Progress finds that nearly every state is experiencing a large and growing teacher diversity gap, or a significant difference between the number of students of color and teachers of color.

The report revisits a similar Center for American Progress (CAP) study from 2011. When the original report was released, students of color made up more than 40 percent of the school age-population, while teachers of color were only 17 percent of the teaching force. The report shows that since 2011, the gap between teachers and students of color has continued to grow...

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Obama Directs Department of Education to Prepare New Rules to Strengthen Teacher Preparation

May 1, 2014

On April 25, President Barack Obama directed the U.S. Department of Education to lay out a plan to strengthen America’s teacher preparation programs for public discussion by this summer, and to move forward on schedule to publish a final rule within the next year. The Administration will encourage and support states in developing systems that recognize excellence and provide all programs with information to help them improve, while holding them accountable for how well they prepare teachers to succeed in today’s classrooms and throughout their careers.

The Obama Administration will put forth a proposal this summer to support the pipeline of future teachers by strengthening teacher preparation programs...

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ACSA Testifies at Informational Pension Hearing

April 17, 2014

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) participated in the last of a recent series of joint informational legislative hearings aimed at addressing the unfunded liability of the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS).

Held by the Senate Public Employment and Retirement Committee and Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee, the hearing focused on CalSTRS’ Vested Rights Doctrine. Previous hearings focused on the history of CalSTRS funding and alternative funding scenarios.

Speaking during the April 9 hearing was Susan Arzola, principal of South Pointe Middle School in Walnut Valley USD...

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Researchers Find More Young Teachers Staying in the Profession, and Reaching Peak Effectiveness

February 10, 2014

By Kaitlin Pennington and Robert Hanna - February 10, 2014

Five years ago, U.S. teachers were asked in a survey how many years of experience they had; their most common answer was one year. Policymakers feared an impending crisis because, if past trends held, about half of these teachers would leave in their first five years. But the latest results from the Schools and Staffing Survey, or SASS a nationally representative study of teachers by the U.S. Department of Education released just weeks ago show that 70 percent of teachers in their first year stayed in the profession. In the new SASS, most teachers said that they had taught for five years. These new survey results reveal that the teacher retention concerns were unfounded...

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Study: Teacher Prep Programs Fail to Provide Effective, Research-Based Classroom Management Strategies

December 17, 2013

America's teacher preparation programs are not providing future teachers with the knowledge and practice in effective classroom management strategies necessary to deal with disruptive student behavior, according to a new report released December 10th by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). Effective research-based strategies exist to help novice teachers manage their classroom from the start, yet the analysis of 122 programs finds that most do not draw from the research and that classroom management in general rarely gets the focus it deserves.

"In no small part due to common incidents of student misbehavior, teaching can be a harrowing experience, particularly in that first year," said Kate Walsh, President of NCTQ...

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Incentive Plan for Teachers in Nation’s Capital Drives Performance Gains, Researchers Say

By Brooke Donald - October 31, 2013

IMPACT, the controversial teacher-evaluation system recently introduced in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), appears to have caused hundreds of teachers in the district to improve their performance markedly while also encouraging some low-performing teachers to voluntarily leave the district’s classrooms, according to a new study from the Stanford Graduate School of Education and the University of Virginia Curry School of Education. IMPACT is a performance-assessment system linking high-powered incentives and teacher evaluations...

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New Set of FAQs Helps LEAs, Employees Understand Recent Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

October 31, 2013

The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) impacted more than a thousand federal laws providing benefits to spouses. To help school districts across the nation better understand this important ruling and the changes they will need to make, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) has led an effort to develop a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) in partnership with the National Education Association (NEA) and the AASA, the School Superintendents Association, on school district employers’ and employees’ issues related to the DOMA ruling...

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National Council on Teacher Quality Report

States Adopting More Rigorous Teacher Evaluation Policies Lag in Improving Student Performance

October 31, 2013

The National Council on Teacher Quality released Connecting the Dots: Using Evaluations of Teacher Effectiveness to Inform Policy and Practice on Wednesday (Oct. 30), a report which provides a lay of the land on state teacher evaluation policy in 2013.  The report finds that there has been an unprecedented adoption of more rigorous teacher evaluation policies across the states, with 35 states and the District of Columbia Public Schools now requiring student achievement to be a significant criterion for rating teacher effectiveness...

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New Report Profiles Changes in Teacher Evaluation Policies

National Policy Review Finds that K-12 Teacher Evaluation is Broader than Test Scores

October 31, 2013

Teacher evaluation systems today are more refined and useful for improving teachers’ skills and connecting teachers to student achievement than past models, a new national report that examines states’ teacher evaluation policies by the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) Center for Public Education (CPE) finds.

Trends in Teacher Evaluation: How States are Measuring Teacher Performance,” offers an overview of changes in teacher evaluation systems by state. The report also describes states’ use of evaluation data for personnel decisions and continuous improvement...

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K-8 School Leaders Call for Stronger Federal Policies to Support Principal Preparation, Evaluation, Retention

February 28, 2013

Representatives of the country’s 95,000 public school principals gathered on Capitol Hill this week to deliver a strong message to federal lawmakers as they consider the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Higher Education Act, and other pieces of federal education legislation: current accountability systems place too much emphasis on student test scores to gauge school, teacher, and student performance rather than focusing on building the capacity of educators to improve schools.

Instead, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) recommends in its newly released 2013 policy platform ways that that legislators can improve current laws...

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LA Teachers Union OKs New Evaluation Method

January 31, 2013

The Los Angeles Times reports that a landmark agreement to use student test scores for the first time in evaluating Los Angeles Unified teachers was approved by union members on January 19.

According to the Times:

United Teachers Los Angeles reported that 66% of 16,892 members who voted approved the agreement with the nation's second-largest school district. L.A. Unified now joins Chicago, New York and many other cities in using testing data as one measure of a teacher's effect on student academic progress. About half the union's 34,000 members voted...

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Student Gains Equal Two Months of Additional Instruction

Teacher Evaluations Boost Midcareer Performance

August 23, 2012

A new study by researchers from Stanford University and Brown University shows that Cincinnati’s rigorous Teacher Evaluation System (TES) has had a direct and lasting effect on midcareer teachers’ performance.

Students taught by a teacher in the years after she had been through the evaluation program scored 0.11 standard deviations higher in math, on average, than the students she taught in the years before her evaluation (as measured by end-of-year 4th through 8th grade state tests). This difference is equivalent to about 3-4 months of additional instruction or a gain of about 4.5 percentile points for the average student...

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New Federal Teacher Incentive Fund Competition Includes Priority for STEM Instruction

June 28, 2012

The U.S. Department of Education announced on June 8 the final application period for the $285 million Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) 2012 competition. This round of the competition includes a new focus on supporting district-wide evaluation systems that reward success, offer greater professional opportunities, and drive decision-making on recruitment, development, and retention of effective teachers and principals.

The next round of funding will also invite applications for a separate competition that centers on improving science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) instruction...

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Superior Court Rules LAUSD Must Include Student Performance in Teacher Evaluations

June 28, 2012

The Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) is advising members that a Superior Court ruling in Los Angeles could eventually have ramifications statewide for K-12 education in the area of teacher evaluations. The Superior Court ruled earlier this month that LAUSD must use student performance data in such evaluations, and that failure to do so is a violation of the Stull Act.

The Stull Act was codified into Education Code 44662, and states in part: “(b)...

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Study Faults Los Angeles Times for "Unreliable" Article Using Student Test Data to Rank Teacher Effectiveness

June 28, 2012

A new report from the National Education Policy Center, housed at the University of Colorado Boulder, reexamines the data used by the Los Angeles Times to generate controversial rankings of teachers in an article published by the newspaper in May 2011.

The new report concludes that the data cannot be reliably used to distinguish among teachers as the Times attempted to do. According to the findings released by NEPC, the Los Angeles Times’ attempt to use value-added models to generate rankings over-simplify the science...

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LAO Recommends Changes in Teacher Layoff Process

Suggests Exploring Alternatives to Ranking by Seniority

April 4, 2012

Reductions to school districts' budgets over the past five years have resulted in a sharp decline in the teacher workforce, with the number of full–time teachers decreasing by 32,000 since 2007–08. One way school districts have reduced their workforce is by laying staff off. This has led to an increased focus on how the teacher layoff process works. This report gives an overview of the existing layoff process, evaluates how well the process is working, and makes recommendations for improving its effectiveness...

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Nearly 20,000 Teachers Received Pink Slips in March

March 22, 2012

Nearly 20,000 teacher pink slips were issued by the statutory March 15 deadline, according to California Teachers Association estimates based on reports from school districts across California.

“When you issue thousands of layoff notices for educators, you are hurting students,” said Dean E. Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association. “The wave of education layoff turmoil brought on again by state cuts is rolling through classrooms and the families of our students...

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Survey Finds Decreased Teacher Satisfaction, Increased Parent Engagement amid Economic Uncertainty

March 8, 2012

Teachers are less satisfied with their jobs than they have been in decades, but parent engagement with schools has increased, according to the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy, the 28th in an annual series commissioned by MetLife and conducted by Harris Interactive. The report, based on a survey of public school teachers, parents and students during the current school year, is the first large-scale national survey to fully reflect the effects of the economy on the teaching profession. The results of this year’s survey were released on Wednesday...

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Classroom Instructors Highly Rated, Unions Not as Popular

Californians Like Teachers, Favor Higher Salaries But Based on Student Performance, Not Seniority

December 1, 2011

Californians love their public school teachers and believe they are underpaid, but hold much less favorable views of teachers unions and would dramatically change the way teacher salaries are determined, according to results from the latest USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll, released on Nov. 20.

A majority of California voters — 53 percent — said public school teachers in California are underpaid, but voters also decisively rejected the current standards by which teacher salaries are determined...

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Studies Find California Teacher Workforce Lacks Diversity, Putting Student Achievement at Risk

November 17, 2011

As America’s public schools grow increasingly more diverse every day, a new report released by the Center for American Progress on November 9 finds that nearly every state is experiencing a large teacher diversity gap, or a significant difference between the number of students and teachers of color.

In California, the state with the largest teacher diversity gap, 72 percent of students are of color. In contrast, only about 29 percent of teachers are of color, a gap of more than 43 percentage points. The report, entitled "Teacher Diversity Matters: A State-by-State Analysis of Teachers of Color," indicates that such large diversity gaps are common across the country...

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Suggested Teacher Salaries: $60K-to-Near-$150K

Duncan Calls on Master Teachers to Help Transform Teaching Profession, Modify Nine-Month School Year

August 4, 2011

Federal Education Secretary Arne Duncan said last week that America should radically transform the way that teachers are recruited, assigned, evaluated and compensated in order to recognize and reward veteran teachers, attract top students into the field of teaching, and make America more competitive.

In a speech on July 29 to the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Duncan urged teachers to rebuild their profession to give teachers more autonomy in exchange for performance-based accountability...

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Changes Follow Critical Report by State Auditor

Brown Begins Revamp of Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Appointing Six New Members

August 4, 2011

Gov. Jerry Brown began the process of revamping the troubled California Commission on Teacher Credentialing this week, by appointing six new members.

Here is a list of the new appointees:

Erick Casallas, 31, of Bakersfield, has been appointed to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Casallas has been a classroom teacher at Emerson Middle School in the Bakersfield City School District since 2006 and taught at Terrace Elementary in Delano Unified School District from 2005 to 2006...

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Districts Need to Understand the Dos- and- Don'ts of Negotiating Contingency Language

By Kari Sousa and Bruce Sarchet - June 23, 2011

During these times of extreme budget uncertainty, many California public school districts find themselves teetering on the brink of fiscal insolvency.  If the state budget is adopted as proposed by the Governor in his May Revision, all may be well, but if the state adopts an “all-cuts” budget, many districts will find themselves with a very short window of time to implement significant budgetary reductions.

Uncertainty seems to be the only certain thing about California public school funding this year.  The inherent complexity in managing a district budget is made far more challenging by the specter of uncertain funding...

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Developments in Los Angeles

Study Suggests Changes in Hiring Policy, Tenure; Teachers Approve Furlough Days to Prevent Layoffs

June 9, 2011

During the past week, there were two education-related developments in the mammoth Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) – both of which could have ramifications for other California school districts, since the Los Angeles district (with over 660,000 students) is the state’s largest.

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles school board was presented with a controversial new report, prepared by the Washington, DC-based National Council on Teacher Quality, and funded in large part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation...

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Court Reverses Earlier Decision, Rules Teacher Can Be Fired for Placing Online Ad with Explicit Photos, Text

May 12, 2011

In a decision announced last month, and published last week, California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled that the San Diego Unified School District can fire a teacher who placed an explicit online advertisement seeking a sexual relationship.

Teacher Frank Lampedusa had been with the school district since 1999, teaching at Farb Middle School since 2004, where he also served as dean of students, handling student discipline matters.

The advertisement appeared online in mid-2008, and Lampedusa was fired later that year...

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Citing Pink Slips and Budget Crisis, Incoming LAUSD Superintendent Voluntarily Takes 17 Percent Pay Cut

April 1, 2011

The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that incoming Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy has asked the LAUSD school board to withhold part of his annual $330,000 salary because of a projected budget shortfall.

According to the LA Times report, Deasy said in an email that he decided to forego part of his salary after attending multiple meetings with employees to explain potential budget scenarios. Last month, the LAUSD board approved sending preliminary layoff notices to almost 7,000 teachers...

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Districts Face Several Deadlines, Starting with March 15

Key Steps to Follow in Certificated Layoff Process

By Steve Horowitz - February 3, 2011

Right now, there is political uncertainty regarding education funding in Sacramento.  Will Gov. Jerry Brown manage to get his proposed statewide proposition extending temporary sales taxes and income taxes on the June ballot? And if Brown and his Democratic allies in the legislature manage to put the question before the voters, what will the voters say?  And at this point in time – early February – no one knows for sure.

But the March 15 statutory deadline for preliminary layoff notices to teachers and other certificated employees looms, and so school district administrators up and down California are drawing up resolutions...

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March 15 Notice for Non-Reelection of Second Year Probationary Certificated Employees

By Steve Horowitz - February 3, 2011

School districts should be considering now whether to take appropriate and required steps to release teachers and other certificated employees prior to the time these employees gain tenure in the district.  Once an employee gains tenure, it becomes much more difficult for the district to release an employee who the district feels does not meet the district's standards of quality for that position.

A certificated employee receives tenure (permanent status) at the beginning of the school year following the completion of the employee’s second complete consecutive year of probationary service...

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Teachers Union to Appeal

Judge Approves Settlement Limiting Use of Seniority In Determining Upcoming LAUSD Teacher Layoffs

By Jeff Hudson - January 27, 2011

In a closely watched decision that could have implications for other California school districts, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge last Friday approved a groundbreaking settlement limiting the effect of layoffs on the district's most vulnerable students.

Under the settlement announced by Judge William F. Highberger, up to 45 Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools will be shielded from teacher layoffs altogether...

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Duncan, AFT & NEA Call for National Education Reform Conference on Labor-Management Collaboration

October 21, 2010

At an event last Thursday celebrating labor-management collaboration and resulting education reforms in Hillsborough County, Fla., U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, and Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the National Education Association, announced plans to convene a national education reform conference on labor-management collaboration early next year to highlight examples of progressive collective bargaining agreements across the country and promote opportunities for management and labor to forge reforms at the state and district level...

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What is Your Role in Selecting Employees?

By Michael J. Millerick - October 14, 2010

What is or should be the role of the Human Resources administrator in the employee selection process?

There appears to be a large majority who feel the HR administrator should be directly involved in the selection process and/or the decision on a final candidate.

But let’s look at the minority point of view. It is arguable that an HR administrator (or the administrator with HR responsibilities in smaller districts) should not sit on any selection panel which will make a recommendation or decision on the hiring of an employee...

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Perils Abound When Allegations Arise, and Staff Starts to "Judge First, Ask Questions Later"

By Michael J. Millerick - September 30, 2010

The colorful colloquialism “Shoot first, ask questions later” imagines the Sheriff (in the era of the Wild West) standing in the dusty street administering “justice” in the old fashioned way.  The presumption being that there’s not much use in questioning the culprit, when we already know he’s guilty.

Of course in the 21st century we know the perils of this approach to justice. Yet many of us engage in a similar version of the old practice called, “Judge first, ask questions later.”...

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Many Teachers Retiring, Greater Diversity Sought

Recruitment Campaign Seeks to Bring In 1.5 Million New Teachers During Coming Decade

September 30, 2010

The U.S. Department of Education launched a national teacher recruitment campaign on Monday during a live MSNBC broadcast as part of the NBC Education Summit in New York. The campaign features a new website — www.teach.gov—dedicated to providing information and resources for students and prospective teachers — including a new interactive "pathway to teaching" tool designed to help individuals chart their course to becoming a teacher. PSAs by celebrities, members of the Obama administration, and local leaders celebrating our nation's teachers and urging today's students to teach are also available on www.teach.gov...

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Enabling and Empowering Employees

By Michael J. Millerick - September 16, 2010

Looking to those you supervise and the quantity and quality of their work, you must at times ask the question about each employee:  how well does he/she do the job?

For purposes of discussion, let’s sort supervisors into two categories.

For some supervisors, determining the answer to this question is a matter of expecting quality (setting high standards), giving directives, monitoring work flow and being certain to let an employee know when they are not using their time effectively...

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Six Part Training Series Begins in November

SEAC Sessions Prepare School District Administrators for Negotiating Sessions

September 9, 2010

Is your district fully prepared for the upcoming rounds of negotiating sessions with bargaining units? Consider the following:

—During early August, nearly 1,000 teachers attended the California Teachers Association’s Summer Institute at UCLA to learn about negotiations. 

—CTA has a big membership, about 340,000 strong.

—On the other hand, K-12 administrators in California number around 27,950...

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Looking Back at a Road (and a Job) Not Taken

By Michael J. Millerick - August 26, 2010

It was 17 years ago when I almost applied for the position of Human Resources Director with the City of Bellevue, in northern Washington. While I was thoroughly enjoying my position at that time in a school district with nearly 4,000 employees and an HR Division with 12 full time staff, the siren call of this position in Bellevue was potent.

The city was creating an HR position which was identified as non-traditional and would manage a small cadre of HR professionals to oversee the more non-traditional services...

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Evolving Ideas for Supervising "Personnel"

By Michael J. Millerick - August 5, 2010

In Part I of this occasional series on “Proven Strategies for Supervising ‘Personnel’” it was noted that MIT’s  Douglas McGregor established in the 1960s that it was crucial for employers to view employees as human resources and assets, and not think of them as workers, labor, or even “the rank and file.”  All such terms, while embedded in our language, fail to recognize the absolute human nature of employees, and thus lead to not only diminishing people’s sense of value in the organization, but also leading to countless problems with mis-managing human resources...

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Tips for Moving Gracefully, With Your Partner, Through 'The Dance of Negotiation'

By Michael J. Millerick - July 22, 2010

It was back in December 1981 when Time Magazine columnist Lance Morrow wrote the essay “The Dance of Negotiation.”1  My career as a professional negotiator was already well under way (I was about six years into the field at that point in time).  Even so, I was startled that his thoughtful, wise and incisive article “in praise of” negotiations so precisely enlightened me as to why I love the purpose and art of negotiation.  I also recall how dismayed I was that so many of my colleagues in educational administration loathed Morrow’s piece!...

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"Value Added" Administration Can Contribute to Student Learning Process

By Michael J. Millerick - July 8, 2010

One of the more popular terms in industry at present is “value added.”  While the term draws from macroeconomics, the education industry has embraced it in a redefinition that goes something like this:

“The term ‘value-added’ refers to a growth model used to analyze student assessment results in such a way as to determine the ‘value’ that a school contributes to a student's learning progress during a particular time period.”...

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Analysis

Teacher Evaluation Systems Need Change – Here Are Three Ideas to Make Things Better

By Ruben Ingram - July 8, 2010

In my view, teacher evaluation systems in California public schools need considerable reform and change.  We have used the checklist approach for many years, and even with the use of the California Standards for the Teaching Profession, the forms continue to be boxes to be checked with little or no inter-rater reliability from evaluator to evaluator.  In other words, principals are not thoroughly trained and retrained on a regular basis to ensure that from one principal to another the standards are being applied evenly, fairly, and rigorously...

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RTTT and SIG Require School Districts to Implement Teacher Evaluation System

By Tina Burkhart - July 8, 2010

Race to the Top (RTTT) guidelines and School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds require districts to create teacher evaluation systems that include student assessment scores in the evaluation.  In June, The National Board Resource Center at Stanford University released a report on teacher evaluation systems entitled “A Quality Teacher in Every Classroom”.  This report was written by the Accomplished California Teacher Network and is based on input from high performing teachers...

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Remind Yourself – Collective Bargaining Doesn't Have to be a Negative Experience

By Michael J. Millerick - June 24, 2010

More often than not, colleagues in Human Resources express frustration, anger, and even contempt for their unions.

And it may be fair to say that if a poll was taken of all school administrators about the value of collective bargaining in the school districts, the results would dip to a point somewhere between “zero” and “hardly any.”

This is unfortunate (to say the least) since the collective bargaining process is part of the law...

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Approach Problem Solving and Decision Making by Preparing Multiple Solutions

By Michael J. Millerick - June 17, 2010

(Part II of II)

In Part I of this look at problem solving and decision making, it was observed that a group of veteran Human Resources professionals came to the consensus that among all the functions they executed, at the heart of good management is the ability to be an effective problem solver/decision maker.

The key steps to be an effective problem solver and decision maker are well known in industry – yet so often forgotten, misapplied or simply ignored. As noted, it takes discipline to learn, internalize and follow the steps to effective problem solving and decision making...

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Problem Solving and Decision Making Play Critical Role in Human Resources Strategy

By Michael J. Millerick - June 10, 2010

(Part I of II)

About half way through a three decade career in human resources management, a few career professionals got together at a conference and started a dialogue on the question of “What is the essential function of an H.R. executive?”  We wanted to get beyond (or beneath) the obvious and threadbare descriptors in our job descriptions – that is, to recruit, hire, evaluate, develop policy, etc. 

A consensus evolved without much struggle when we realized that at the heart of good management – and especially “human resource’ management – is the ability to be an effective problem solver and decision maker...

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Response Needs to Extend Beyond the Classroom

Bullying is a Human Resources Problem, Too

By Michael J. Millerick - June 3, 2010

With the recent almost unbelievable taunting and bullying of a South Hadley, Massachusetts teen and her suicide as a result, we will experience the rush to commentary and a mad dash by school districts to review bullying policies and prevention programs for students.

But maybe it is not policies or students which should be the major focus.  Our educational system should look candidly at a real underlying force, which can dramatically affect the frequency of bullying and the tragic growth of serious harm being caused by it.  Maybe this is a human resource problem?...

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Early Retirement Incentive Program – Is It Really Worth Doing In Your District?

By Nancy Walker - May 27, 2010

Due to the current budget situation, school districts throughout California are looking at ways to cut costs and save money.  Most districts have turned to increasing class sizes and virtually eliminating class size reduction programs all together.

So what happens when the Class Size Reduction (CSR) program goes away?  Class sizes increase, and the number of teachers decrease.

And who are the teachers that “go away”?  Many times they are your newer, more energized and (yes) less expensive teachers, with fewer years of service on the salary schedule...

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Recognize the Crucial Role of Classified Staff

By Michael J. Millerick - May 27, 2010

There has always been a lack of consensus as to which group within a school district’s employ is most important to success.  Central office management?  Site level administrators?  Program directors? Teachers? Classified?  While arguable, a lot of people would support the idea that teachers are the most critical – though it would probably be folly to try to prove this.

But what about a variation on the question: which employee group is more important to enabling children to learn in a functioning, safe, clean and secure environment?...

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Big Girls Don't Cry . . In The Workplace

By Michael J. Millerick - May 20, 2010

Do you remember the hit record from 1962, “Big Girls Don’t Cry?”  It has been decades since Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons made those words a mantra for men wishing to chastise women for showing emotions they themselves had but buried under the mantle of ‘machismo’!

The song’s lyrics quickly became a stereotype that caught on . . .  And in offices and other job locations all over the nation, the concept had particular impact, since in decades past, women were a true minority in the workplace...

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Judge Grants Injunction in Los Angeles Case, Barring Teacher Layoffs at Three Schools

May 17, 2010

Saying that the state’s education code allows school districts flexibility in laying off teachers in order to comply with constitutional requirements to provide equal education to all students, a Superior Court judge granted an injunction last Wednesday that prevents the Los Angeles Unified School District from laying off teachers at Gompers, Liechty and Markham middle schools this year.  The three schools, which primarily serve low-income students and students of color, saw their teaching corps disproportionately decimated by a round of budget-driven layoffs last year...

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Salary is Just One Factor in Success

Should You Offer More for Great Prospects?

By Michael Millerick - May 13, 2010

Is it a myth that if public schools could negotiate salary levels with individual teachers and administrators they could pay more and get great employees?  Yes.

The public school salary schedule system is in place not to promote mediocrity but to ensure fairness in compensation.  There is a strong argument in favor of the belief that a salary schedule with restrictions on placement prevents the employer from negotiating a higher salary for what is determined to be a superior candidate...

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Coastal, Inland Counties Will Be Affected

Wave of Retirements, Rising Enrollment Could Leave Districts Strapped for Leadership

April 15, 2010

Recently, the Regional Education Laboratory West issued a report examining the effect of population growth and administrator retirement on the future need for school administrators in the next decade.

The study notes the importance of school leadership in education, but also notes the difficulty faced by some low-income or racial-minority districts to recruit qualified applicants.

Individual findings regarding retirement and enrollment...

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O'Connell Urges Passage of Parcel Tax Measure

Education Coalition Says 22,000 Teachers, Staff Received Pink Slips by March 15 Deadline

March 18, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell joined with members of the California Teachers Association, California School Employees Association, California State PTA, California Association of School Administrators, and California County Superintendents Educational Services Association on Monday to announce that nearly 22,000 teachers had received notices of potential layoffs by the March 15 statutory deadline.

“Our state budget crisis has forced districts to lay off thousands of teachers over the past few years,” O’Connell said...

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Has Your District Performed All the Necessary Tasks?

What Districts Need to Remember When Handling Certificated and Classified Layoffs

By Solveig Monson - March 4, 2010

This year, virtually all California school districts face budget cuts as a result of the state budget crisis.  As a result, most districts are moving to reduce or discontinue programs and/or services to reduce associated staffing costs.

Procedures for reducing certificated and classified staff are guided by statute, case law, district policies, collective bargaining agreements and other factors that districts must consider when conducting certificated and classified layoffs...

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Fingerprinting, Fees Required

New Law Tightens Rules on Classified Volunteers

By Kari Sousa, CPA - February 5, 2010

On October 11, 2009 the Governor signed AB 1025, authored by Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Visalia), establishing a requirement for classified employees and volunteers who supervise pupil activity programs to obtain a new Activity Supervisor Clearance Certificate (ASCC) from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC).

Many school districts already have local requirements for the fingerprinting of volunteers, but the new law will prove more extensive and more costly than most existing district policies...

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Court Confirms 18-Month Limit on Buyout of Superintendent's Contract

January 15, 2010

The law firm Fagen Friedman and Fulfrost is reporting the state Court of Appeals has ruled that a settlement between a superintendent and a board of trustees regarding the early termination of the superintendent’s contract cannot include any payments beyond the 18-month cash settlement limit set forth under Government Code 53260.

Brett McFadden, Management Services Executive with the Association of California School Administrators, has been following the case, which has been closely watched by other superintendents...

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Proven Strategies for Supervising "Personnel"

By Michael J. Millerick - January 8, 2010

It was in 1960, when Douglas McGregor of the MIT Sloan School of Management researched and presented his theories of human motivation, that the term “human resources” took hold, largely replacing the term “personnel” in private and ultimately most public sector organizations.  McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y models of human motivation made us aware that in a post-industrial society, viewing people as human resources and “assets” was crucial to success...

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Cure for Conflict? It Could Be as Easy as IBA

By Steve Horowitz - December 18, 2009

So, you’ve got an office full of ‘Baby-Boomers’, ‘Millenniums,’ ‘Generation X’, ‘Generation Y,’ Introverts, Extroverts, Males, Females,  African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, Caucasians, Management, Non-Management?  And maybe you’ve got a few non-morning people, and perhaps some personality types that are driven, or analytical, or creative?  And maybe some nice, polite go-along types who just want a little recognition, but are often silenced by aggressive types who don’t let them ‘get a word in’?  What do they all have in common?...

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Tips for Human Resources

Does Your District Have a Complaint Policy?

By Michael J. Millerick - December 11, 2009

How often do we stop and reflect on the fact that public education is one of the most labor intensive enterprises in America?  With up to 90 percent of our revenues expended on the compensation of ‘human resources’, is there a real need to dedicate or rededicate a greater focus on the people who make education happen?

From secretaries to custodians, from classroom aides and teachers to administrators these are the resources, bricks and mortar if you will, of our endeavor which is to provide our children with a quality education...

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Pension Plans Can Penalize Educators Whose Career Covers More than One State, Study Finds

November 13, 2009

Given the huge budget cuts for K-12 education in California, some educators in the state are contemplating jobs elsewhere.  But there may be a financial risk to making such a move.

A 30-year veteran public school teacher who moves and splits her employment between two state retirement systems is at risk for losing well over one-half of her pension wealth, according to new research from economists Robert M. Costrell of the University of Arkansas and Michael Podgursky of the University of Missouri-Columbia...

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Superintendents in Short Supply

Are You Ready for the Next Move?

By John Almond - November 6, 2009

This is a very good time to be looking for a job as a school district superintendent.  The demand for qualified applicants is high, and the supply, apparently, is low.  If you are an experienced superintendent with a good track record, you can expect some very attractive offers if you enter the job market.

Of course, the reason for this favorable supply-and-demand situation is that this is a particularly challenging time to be a school superintendent.  You’re under constant scrutiny; you’re expected to be accessible 24-hours-a-day and 7-days-a-week...

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Five Pointers for Maintaining a Healthy Pool of Substitute Teachers – Even in a Large District

By Jeff Hudson - October 30, 2009

Many school districts scramble on a daily basis to come up with enough substitute teachers.

Elaine Alexandres, who coordinates substitute teachers for the San Bernardino City Unified School District, typically needs to come up with about 250 substitute teachers every day.  “We have 67 schools,” Alexandres told EdBrief this week.  Those campuses serve a total of about 54,000 students.

But the need for substitutes escalates at certain times of the year...

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Local Contract Language Could Be Critical

New Law Brings Changes Regarding Use of Student Test Data in Teacher Evaluations

By Brett McFadden - October 23, 2009

Since the enactment of SB 19 (Chapter 159/2009) a few weeks ago, the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) has received several inquiries regarding the use of student test results in teacher evaluations.

Can local education agencies (LEAs) now use student performance data as part of their teacher evaluation process?  Like many collective bargaining and employee evaluation issues, the answer is “it depends, look at your existing contract.”  In most instances, your LEA’s collective bargaining contract will stipulate what you can and cannot do relative to this matter...

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Secretary of Education Declares Colleges Are "Doing a Mediocre Job" Training New Teachers

October 23, 2009

In the latest in a series of speeches that focus on teaching, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called on Thursday for America’s colleges of education to dramatically change how they prepare the next generation of teachers so that they are ready to prepare their future students for success in college and careers.

Noting that America’s schools will need to hire up to 200,000 first-time teachers annually for the next five years, Duncan said that those new teachers need the knowledge and skill to prepare students for success in the global economy...

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Duncan: Obama Seeking $30 Million to Launch National Teacher Recruitment Campaign

October 16, 2009

The Department of Education estimates a national need for 1.7 million new teachers by 2017 due to anticipated retirements and attrition among currently serving teachers.

Included in the president's fiscal 2010 budget request is $30 million to support a national teacher recruitment campaign. If approved by Congress, the Department of Education would support the teaching profession by launching a comprehensive effort to recruit and provide support for students and professionals from other fields to become teachers...

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Court Rules That Veteran Teachers Who Refuse To Get EL Certification Can Be Terminated

By Jeff Hudson - October 9, 2009

Longtime tenured teachers who refuse to get training that certifies them for working with students who are English Learners can be terminated, according to a closely watched decision announced on Sept. 29 by the California Third District Court of Appeals.

The case – which is thought to have implications for other school districts – involved a longtime high school music teacher in the Ripon Unified School District in San Joaquin County...

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Collective Bargaining Outlook for 2009-10

By Tahir Ahad and Brett McFadden - September 11, 2009

The fiscal outlook for K-12 education in California remains volatile from now thru 2011-12, with 2010-11 shaping up to be a particularly difficult year.  The present fiscal crisis will result in a fundamental realignment of public service availability and delivery.  Therefore, the protection of core educational services and programs will remain paramount for all districts and county offices as they go into contract negotiations with their bargaining units both this year and the next year.

Some wise observers have remarked that it is “easier to bargain when you have no money.”...

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How to Communicate Effectively with Parents: Five "Hard" Steps to Make the Experience Easier

By Steve Horowitz - August 21, 2009

Let’s be honest.  When we trained to become administrators in the field of education, no one told us just how hard it can be to communicate bad news to parents – especially in regards to student behavior, and discipline.  Perhaps if we’d been warned, a few of us might not have completed our certificate courses, and might have gone on to other professions.

But part of our job as site and district office education leaders is to communicate with parents and stakeholders about this sensitive issue – as difficult as that can be.  In fact, it’s a critical part of what we do...

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Districts Proceeding With August 15 Layoffs

By Jeff Hudson - August 7, 2009

Several California school boards are moving this week to issue layoff notices to teachers and other employees prior to the August 15 deadline, in the wake of funding cuts the districts will receive under the recently adopted state budget.

In recent decades, California school boards have rarely (if ever) pursued the option of August layoffs for teachers.  Typically, layoff notices have been issued prior to the more familiar March 15 notification deadline...

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New Budget Gives Option of Shorter School Year, But How Many Districts Will Want to Go There?

By Jeff Hudson - July 31, 2009

One provision of the new state budget – signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday – is an option for local school districts to reduce the school year by five days.  The option was proposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger last January, as a budgetary move designed to save the state money.

But a reduction in the school year looks less appealing to many school districts.  Districts would lose Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding, largely negating any money saved in terms of reduced payroll...

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TSS, ACSA, CSBA and SEAC Announce Collective Bargaining Summits 2009

July 10, 2009

Total School Solutions (TSS), in collaboration with the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA), the California School Boards Association (CSBA) and the School Employers Association of California (SEAC), is offering strategically and conveniently located workshops all over the state during September and October.

In these difficult times, proactive and well thought out planning for negotiations is more critical than ever before.  These workshops provide an opportunity to learn the “do's and don’ts” of collective bargaining during difficult economic times...

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August 15 layoffs – Will it apply this year?

By Tahir Ahad (TSS), Brett McFadden (ACSA) and Dr. Ruben Ingram (SEAC) - May 29, 2009

With the failure of Propositions 1A thru 1E, reductions to K-14 education funding appear more imminent and austere.  As a result, there has been an increased level of interest regarding the August 15 “insufficient increase in revenue limits procedure.”  While the March 15 layoff procedure has been used and tested considerably, less is known about the August 15 procedure.


The August 15 procedure

Under Education Code section 44955.5, “between five days after the enactment of the state budget and August 15...

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Federal Stimulus Dollars and Collective Bargaining Agreements

By Tahir Ahad (TSS), Brett McFadden (ACSA) and Dr. Ruben Ingram (SEAC) - April 3, 2009

As federal stimulus dollars begin to roll out, Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) with existing collective bargaining agreements that contain salary and “fair-share” formulas may receive demands to bargain to apply a part of Federal stimulus monies to the salary schedule.  The chances of such demands will increase if the funding is made available to the school districts and county offices of education as an add-on to the revenue limit...

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How – and Why – Districts Should Maintain Positive Relationships with Employee Groups

By Steve Horowitz - March 20, 2009

The current budget crisis in California presents new and significant challenges to the collective bargaining agreements between school districts and the employee associations that represent district employees.

These challenges arise from the shrinking budgets in almost all school districts.  In most cases, this fiscal crisis was not caused by the districts or their employees, but everyone shares the burden of finding viable program solutions to problems caused by fiscal shortfalls...

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After the Pink Slips Go Out... Then What?

By Steve Horowitz - March 17, 2009

Last week, according to news reports, upwards of 26,000 teachers in California received layoff notices ("pink slips") from school districts prior to the March 15 statutory notification deadline.  The large majority of notices were precipitated by districts enacting board resolutions to reduce particular kinds of service, which impacted the positions held by teachers receiving notices or by the more senior teachers who would retain a position elsewhere in their district...

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The Commission on Teacher Credentialing Seeks Applicants for Committee of Credentials

March 13, 2009

The Commission on Teacher Credentialing is seeking applicants to fill two vacancies for Public Member positions on the Committee of Credentials.  The Committee of Credentials is the statutorily created committee charged with the responsibility of reviewing allegations of misconduct of credential applicants and holders who serve in California’s public schools.  Pursuant to statute the Committee is composed of two teachers, a holder of an administrative services credential, a school board member and three public members...

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Check Your Board Policies . . .
You May Find Old, Stale Documents

By Steve Horowitz - February 13, 2009

Every school district has a set of board policies and administrative regulations that cover a host of topics related to the governance of the district.  While these policies seldom make for exciting reading, they play an important role over time, providing continuity as school board trustees and administrators come and go.

Board policies are typically approved and revised, as needed, by the governing board to set the broad direction for the district...

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Minimize the Pain of Budget Reductions – Communicate

By Steve Horowitz - February 6, 2009

By now, with the knowledge that state budget cuts are coming, most school district human resources offices have compiled employee seniority lists.  They may have also been involved in discussions about possible staffing reductions because of potentially significant budget reductions.  In addition, most districts have addressed aspects of the budget reductions with their employee bargaining groups through the negotiations process...

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What Districts Should Know About Handling Certificated and Classified Layoffs

By Steve Horowitz - February 6, 2009

One strategy that most districts consider when faced with potential budget cuts is to reduce or discontinue programs and/or services to reduce associated staffing costs.

Procedures for reducing certificated and classified staff are guided by statute, case law, district policies, collective bargaining agreements and other factors that districts must consider when conducting certificated and classified layoffs...

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Strategies for Collective Bargaining

By John Almond - January 30, 2009

In my last article, I focused on the scope of collective bargaining as well as important aspects to consider prior to and during the bargaining process.  While there are no silver bullets when dealing with collective bargaining, there are strategies that I have found to be extremely helpful.

The following is a list of some of these strategies that may prove quite helpful, particularly over the long run...

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Reducing Certificated Employees Workload from Full-Time to Part-Time: An Alternative to Certificated Layoffs

By Steve Horowitz - January 23, 2009

Education Code 44922 allows governing boards to establish regulations for certificated employees to reduce their workloads from full-time to part-time duties while maintaining their full retirement benefits.

This option, sometimes referred to the “Willie Brown Act,” is particularly popular among those certificated employees who are approaching retirement and wish to scale back their work on a part-time basis while still receiving full retirement benefit credit...

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The Scope of Collective Bargaining

By John Almond - January 16, 2009


Is there a Need for Reform?

The purpose of collective bargaining is generally perceived as a union negotiating with management for the best possible salary and benefits package for its member employees.  In fact, however, collective bargaining in education goes far beyond this concept and includes a variety of issues, such as:

    1. Class size
    2. Teacher evaluation...

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Key Steps in Certificated Layoff Process

By Steve Horowitz - January 9, 2009

In a recent edition of EdBrief (Preparing Seniority Lists for Certificated Layoffs, November 21, 2008), we described the early steps for conducting certificated layoffs, beginning with development of seniority lists.

By this time of the school year, districts should be anticipating possible certificated layoffs based on reduction or elimination of programs ("particular kinds of services") in 2009-10.  Given the current and anticipated dire budget realities, the future of many successful and popular district programs may be in jeopardy due to funding cuts...

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March 15 Notice for Non-Reelection of Second Year Probationary Certificated Employees

By Steve Horowitz - January 9, 2009

School districts should be considering now whether to take appropriate and required steps to release teachers and other certificated employees prior to the time these employees gain tenure in the district.  Once an employee gains tenure, it becomes much more difficult for the district to release an employee who the district feels does not meet the district's standards of quality for that position.

A certificated employee receives tenure (permanent status) at the beginning of the school year following the completion of the employee’s second...

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Preparing Seniority Lists for Certificated Layoffs

By Steve Horowitz - November 21, 2008

Almost all California school districts are considering ways to reduce their costs, due to the harsh budget realities brought on by the state's economic crisis.

Districts that choose to reduce or eliminate programs in 2009-10 (including the local termination of class size reduction programs) may face the prospect of conducting certificated layoffs, depending on the extent of the program cuts and the amount of certificated staff attrition occurring through retirements and/or resignations...

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Is Interest Based Bargaining Right for Your District?

By Steve Horowitz - October 31, 2008

Many school districts in California use the Interest-Based Bargaining (IBB) model for conducting successful negotiations with their employee groups.  In IBB, the district’s bargaining team and the employees’ bargaining team work together closely to clearly define bargaining parameters, the parties’ interests, and to develop solutions leading to agreements, using a collaborative problem-solving approach...

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Preparing Administrators for the Evaluation Process for Teachers, Other Certificated Employees

By Steve Horowitz - October 24, 2008

Most certificated bargaining unit collective bargaining agreements include detailed information about the timeline and activities included in the evaluation process for teachers, counselors, librarians and other members of the certificated employee group(s).

It is critical that each of the administrators responsible for supervising and evaluating these certificated employees thoroughly understands the steps...

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How the Human Resources Office Can Help Overcome Budget Challenges

By Steve Horowitz - October 17, 2008

The recently-enacted state budget has a significant impact on your human resources office.  Under the new state budget, most school districts will face the daunting prospects of dealing with rising costs without the benefit of revenues to offset those costs – both now, and in the next few years.

It is important that the human resources leaders anticipate the likely program and staffing impacts in the near future that reflect the ongoing statewide budget crisis...

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Computer-Based Teacher Testing Offers Greater Access and Convenience

By Cathy Bui - October 10, 2008

According to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing, beginning this month, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing has launched a pilot program with Pearson Evaluation Systems to assess a new computer-based testing option for the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST)...

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When Should a School District Conduct a Reclassification Study?

By Steve Horowitz - September 19, 2008

Most collective bargaining agreements between a school district and its classified employees contain an article about the Reclassification of classified positions.

Typically, the contract describes procedures for employees and the district to follow when classified positions (including pay range) need to be re-evaluated based on the actual duties performed by the employee...

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Complying with NCLB "Highly Qualified Teacher" Requirements

By Steve Horowitz - September 19, 2008

All public school teachers assigned to teach core academic subjects in a district that receives federal funds, including Title I, must comply with NCLB (No Child Left Behind) requirements at this time.  A teacher of core academic subjects must have:

  1. a bachelor’s degree;
  2. a state credential or an Intern Certificate/Credential for no more than 3 years; and...

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Is Your District Maintaining a Competitive Edge to Attract and Retain Qualified Staff?

By Steve Horowitz - September 1, 2008

School districts in California understand the importance of attracting and maintaining a qualified force of teaching, classified, and administrative staff to ensure that students receive the best programs and services possible. In times of declining enrollments and dwindling resources, districts are making difficult, and often creative, decisions about ways to maintain high quality and sufficient staff...

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How an Annual Activities Calendar Can Help Your Human Resources Office

By Steve Horowitz - September 1, 2008

Most Human Resource Offices find it helpful to maintain an annual Activities Calendar that includes monthly events and activities related to the services provided by that office. Issues related to staffing, meetings, document preparation, department communications and other task areas can be included each month in the calendar to remind existing staff and alert new staff about important human resources deadlines...

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